If not falling victim ourselves, we've all heard stories about somebody returning from an international trip to find some whopping global roaming charges waiting on the countertop. Melbourne-based startup Strone is looking to make homecomings less of a shock to the hip pocket nerve with a smart device that stays behind to forward all your voice calls and texts to your mobile phone through an app, cutting out those hefty surprise phone bills in the process.
Accountant turned entrepreneur Tas Tudor came up with the idea for Strone Roam when traveling back and forth from Melbourne to Sri Lanka in early 2014. With the need to stay contactable via his regular mobile phone number he soon racked up some pretty sizeable roaming bills, so he went looking for a better (ie. cheaper) option.
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"Every single time I went it was costing me a bucket, and I couldn't find a solution anywhere," Tudor tells Gizmag. "There's call forwarding services and other ways to stay connected, but none of them offer the complete solution."
So he set about building one. The solution he came up with is relatively straightforward. Before jetting off on your overseas jaunt, you slot your mobile sim card into the base of the cylindrical tabletop device. There it stays while you travel about, relaying text messages and voice calls to your phone through the Strone app (iOS, Android and web browser), so long as it and the Strone Roam itself remain connected to the Internet.
While users can rely on Wi-Fi at their destination or buy a local sim card, Strone will also offer a prepaid 1 GB international roaming sim that Tudor says will work across more than 100 countries at a cost of US$50 per month (he expects to up this coverage to 190 countries by March next year). And when it comes to phoning home, calls and messages to the user's country of residence are charged at local rates.
Tudor and his team are to put Strone Roam through a final phase of beta testing in the coming months, with plans to begin shipping worldwide in January. He is currently running an Indiegogo campaign, where early pledges of $135 (plus shipping) will have one headed your way if all goes to plan.
You can check out the pitch video for the Strone Roam below.